Vacations are supposed to be our break from real world problems. We put a lot of money, miles and points, time, effort and dreams into planning the perfect getaway in hopes that our vacation days from work are not wasted.
But despite even the best planning, something often goes wrong on a trip. How do we pull ourselves together and salvage the vacation without losing our @#$%*?
What Could Go Wrong on Vacation?
Chances are, even the most picture-perfect vacation has small issues. But sometimes, the issues seem to take over the focus and vibe of the whole trip.
Illness/Injuries: There’s nothing worse than being sick on vacation! When you don’t feel well, it’s hard to enjoy anything. My family seems to get sick a lot on vacations.
On two of my past Disney cruises, I got sinus infections. I was miserable! One of my kids got a mouth sore on a cruise and had difficulty eating all week. My oldest son threw up all day during our first trip to Colorado, and my other son broke out in hives for our cross-country train trip.
On our spring break trip to Hawaii, I fell at the Aulani pool area on our second-to-last day. I was in extreme pain for a few days and I didn’t heal completely for a few months. Harmony from Momma to Go wrote about how she ended up in the hospital on her California vacation. Scary!
Bad Weather: Rain, ice, snow and hail can delay flights. But even bad weather on a cruise can put a real damper on your beach plans! Sometimes, a cruise ship has to skip an entire port due to wind. This is a real bummer if you’ve been looking forward to experiencing Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.
Technical Difficulties: On one of our cruises, the animation show in Animator’s Palate malfunctioned. Some people were very angry! When people pay a premium for DCL, they expect everything to work. I see people report on social media that the flow riders on RCCL are sometimes broken.
Sleeping Problems: Families don’t always sleep as well on vacation due to the number of beds and sleeping arrangements. I recently saw a Mom on an RCCL cruise who had to sleep with her toddler in bed in between her and her husband because the ship ran out of pack ‘n play cribs. Yikes! And remember that tiny sofa bed from my California trip?
Crowds and Customer Service: Sometimes, places are way more crowded than we expected and customer service isn’t adequate. Both of those can lead to a less-than-pleasant vacation.
Fortunately, we don’t have to let these mishaps ruin our entire vacation.
Breathe and Think Before Acting
When something goes wrong on vacation, it’s helpful to take a few minutes to breathe and regroup before taking action. Of course, I’m not always good at this, so I’m writing this as a reminder for me as well.
Our first gut reaction to dealing with a problem isn’t always the best. Plus, if you start to have a fit, chances are that somebody will be filming you. Remember this mom who was going to be late for her Disney cruise?
Ask for Help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when something goes wrong. Staff and even other travelers are usually glad to help. But if you don’t ask, you might be missing out on a fix.
I frequently see cruisers complain about the speed of their service in the dining room after they return. However, most of them didn’t speak to the Head Server (dining room supervisor) during the cruise. The serving teams are not mind readers. Most people want a leisurely, fancy meal on a cruise ship. But if you’d rather have a quicker in-and-out service, just speak up. We’ve mentioned to our servers that we’d like to be out by a certain time to catch a show, and we were always accommodated.
If you booked your trip with a travel agent (and you should!), ask your travel agent for help. A quick phone call or text to your agent to help you reschedule a flight may be much faster than trying to get help at the airport.
Keep an Open Mind
If something goes wrong on vacation and you have to change your plans, keep an open mind about the alternative activity. It might be better than you think!
On our cruise to Alaska last year, we were supposed to spend a day sailing through Tracy Arm. However, the ice was still too thick and we had to sail Endicott Arm instead. Although some people were initially disappointed, Endicott Arm was so lovely and I didn’t feel like we missed out at all.
Don’t Let Mishaps Define Your Vacation
The best thing you can do when something goes wrong on vacation is to go with the flow and have a good attitude. Don’t let a mishap ruin your whole vacation. Chances are, other parts of the trip were still good and are worth remembering.
That cruise that my son was miserable on? He now looks back on that trip fondly and declares that ship is his favorite. When I had to limp around in Hawaii? It’s barely a blip in my memory of our fantastic vacation.
Before future trips, set realistic expectations that everything won’t be perfect. Have alternative plans in case the weather is bad. And last but not least, buy travel insurance to help with the big stuff.
What is the worst thing that has happened to you on vacation? How did you handle it?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.